Marc-André Fleury of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Ryan O'Reilly of the St. Louis Blues during the first period in Game 1 of playoff series at Xcel Energy Center on May 2, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn.

Hughes will have a gaping hole in his roster if Carey Price doesn’t return next season. Price missed most of this season following what was supposed to be minor knee surgery. He returned to play five games at the end of the season, but he reported painful swelling in the knee, which prevented him for playing at what he considers an acceptable level.

Price is looking for “another opinion” on his knee, but he has admitted his career might be over and Hughes said Wednesday that none of the three goaltenders under contract to the Canadiens — Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau — is capable of being No. 1.

The good news is that there will be free agents available on July 13. Money shouldn’t be a major problem because the team will free up US$10.5 million in cap space if Price goes on the long-term injured reserve list. The challenge for Hughes is to determine if he wants a short-term fix or a player who can be part of a longer rebuild.

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